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Assignment B Cultural Biography

Introduction
On June 24th 1992 a beautiful little girl was born 11:56 am in a small city of Florida
known as Tallahassee. The parents of this little girl were Kevin Gillyard a country bumpkin from
a Greenville, Florida who only had a middle school education and was already a father to 6 other
children. Clarissa Thomas was the mother of this little girl, she was the first girl born after her 5
older brother and a middle child of 16 children. Together Kevin and Clarissa decided to have a
child together and they named her Chattrelle Gillyard which is me. Clarissa Thomas also had
minimum education, she dropped out of school at the age of 14 to help raise her brothers and
sisters. Being born too parents who werent married and didnt share the same last name was
somewhat of a struggle growing up. Kevin had several different children by several women and
Clarissa had a previous son from another relationship. They didnt stay together long after June
24th 1992 maybe only two years. The confusion a child goes through trying to figure out why
their moms last name is different from theirs, and the person last name that the child carries isnt
around takes a toll. My family is originally from West Palm Beach, FL so as a child we flip
flopped between Tallahassee and West Palm Beach as a place to call home. June 5th 2010 was
my high school graduation and my third very brief psychical encounter with my father. Within
23 days I was moving into my first apartment, starting my first job, and living an adult life. On
May 3th 2013 I was walking across the stage in the Leon County Civic Center with my
Associates Degree in my hand from Tallahassee Community College. An acceptance letter was
sent a month prior from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Ga and by May 3rd 2014 a U-Haul
truck and a loaded down 95 Pontiac was on 75 leaving Tallahassee in the rear.

Positionality/ Multiple Identities


Social Workers run deep in my family only two people actually have degrees in the field,
but many family members of mine do the exact same task that many social workers do. My
reason for becoming a social worker is simple, I love helping people. Trying to solve other
problems is something Ive always tried to do since I was child. So listening to people problems
and trying to solve them is definitely a major reason behind my mission of becoming a social
worker. In my life right now at the age of 22 is a discovering, curious stage for me. As a young
adult you try to figure out where you fit in, who you are, are you where youre supposed to be,
and are headed in the right direction. Some of these thing I have the answer to but Im still not
sure about some. My life is in a stable place right now Im just that person that always needs a
future game plan. From a cultural view Ive come a long way, in the past resistance to other
cultures was a huge problem for me. Meeting new or different people wasnt something of
enjoyment for me, I stuck to people of my cultural background. Now its the complete opposite
excitement overcomes with me when a chance to meet people from other cultures emerge. In the
next few years I hope to be more culturally aware and competent. A Masters in Social Work and
a clinical license in the field is hope to be obtain as well.

Americanization

Like many it easy to relate to coming from an ethnic community in America where your
ancestors came from a different country but through the years no one never preserved their
language, culture or beliefs. During childhood years my interactions were mostly with other
African Americans and Latinos never with European, Asian Americans or First Nations People.
Even though my great great grandmother was a full blood Cherokee Indian. I wouldnt say my
neighborhood growing up was very diverse it was only a mixture of Latinos and African
American no other groups. My neighborhood friends consisted of mostly African Americans
though I did have one or two Latino friend, and my school friends were the same as my
neighborhood friends. The school system was somewhat integrated there were a couple of
Caucasians and Asian Americans students but you could count them on your fingers, the rest of
the schools around the neighborhood were Latino or African American. At about the age of 12,
my mother moved us to another neighborhood my next door neighbor was a Caucasian female
and we became best friends. Her parents were very nice and welcoming and we use to have
sleepovers all the time we did everything together. One day her mother was having a party and
entertaining some friends and I had come over, her mother friends were so shocked that her
daughter was friends with an African American. I was of age to understand why they were
staring in silence at us together it was because where they come from white girls arent friends
with little back girls. Thats an incident I will never forget, it was my first time really
understanding discrimination.

Family Culture
A combination of African- American and First Nation Cherokee Indian origin runs in my
blood. When it comes to acculturation I tend to be very Americanized. Regional culture does
influence me its a Southern one. The person who tries to keep what lefts of our culture going is
my grandmother. We observe ethnic religious worship and ethnic and cultural food and some
ethnic conversational language as our cultural practices. The friends in the neighborhood where
my mother raised us was mixed between Latinos and blacks but my best friends were African
American and so were my friends throughout school and my closest friends though for a short
period of time one Caucasian girl befriended me. My partner will probably be from my general
ethnic background. My levels of contact with others outside of my own ethnic group is very
frequent between work, school and my neighborhood. When it comes to social activities my
level of contact is moderate. My experience with people of other cultures and ethnicities have
been positive. Positively because a very close family friend was raised completely opposite than
how our family was raised. The things her family does as customs and traditions were foreign to
our family and vice versa. Yet she was willing to learn and listen to all of our customs and
beliefs and she taught us everything about how culture. Everyone I have ever met that outside
my culture are always willing to listen, learn and share. Asian Americans are a group that always
get stereotyped. When a person sees an Asian American they automatically label them as super
smart or Chinese. Of course people stereotype me not only because of my ethnic background but
my income and and gender as well. Increasing cultural awareness is a great thing especially in
ones own ethnic/ cultural roots, visiting country of origin, working with multicultural clients,
and learning a multicultural language.

Cultural Awareness of others Inventory


Tallahassee, Florida had an approximate population of 195,493 people when I was born.
My ethnic group is African American. As stated above in the introduction Most of my childhood
was in West Palm Beach, FL and Tallahassee, FL majority of neighborhoods were
predominately full of Latinos and African Americans. During childhood I came in contact with
African Americans, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cuban Americans very frequently
so my impression of them tended to be quite favorable. While contact was very rare and my
impression was unfavorable with Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese Americans. My
maternal great grandmother is from the First Nation ethnic group yet as a child my impression of
them was somewhat favorable because I Didnt know much about them. Impressions about
people of color came from my parents and neighbors attitudes. Tallahassee, FL was the place
teenager years were spent, still in a predominantly African American neighborhood with lot of
African Americans friends. Due to the fact the people I surrounded myself around were African
American I only dated Black males. From childhood to adolescent the impressions about people
from different ethnic backgrounds pretty much stayed the same. It was until adulthood in
Atlanta, Ga where Georgia State University one of Georgias most culturally diverse Universities
became my school when my impression changed. In May 2016 a Bachelors in Social Work will
hopefully be obtained. As a young adult some of my close friends consist of Blacks, Whites,
Latinos and Asians. Still currently dating someone of my ethnic background, yet my job at The
Fresh Market is very diverse with people from every ethnic background possible and my
neighborhood is as diverse as my job. I would have to say that throughout my life the degree of
contact and involvement with people of color that I have had has been frequent.

Conclusion
This Cultural biography actually brought to my attention things about my childhood
experiences that I never really thought about. You never really think about how much your
childhood experiences and interactions effect your adulthood. My willingness to relate with other
African Americans and Latinos stems from me only being familiar with those group as a child.
Growing up my experiences and interactions werent with Asians, Caucasians, or First Nations
People and if they were they were very limited. So when I tend to more cautious in my initial
relationships with people different from me. After completing this assignment I understand
myself a little better, also learned that I may have some barriers that I need to overcome before
becoming a social worker.